Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Blogging about the Newbery

It is my pleasure and honor to serve on the 2013 Newbery committee. One issue of special concern to me was the ALSC policy on social networking and blogging about committee work. This is my first time on a book award committee and I really don't want to do anything wrong. I think I understand it.

I can blog/tweet/facebook about my opinions all I want. I can not blog/tweet/facebook about any of the discussion among committee members or anyone else's opinions. That's fine. I have enough opinions on my own to go around.

This was all told with a caveat. You must be careful. You don't want to give anyone false hope. My opinion is only one out of 15. People pay more attention when you are on a committee. And mostly I am going by the doctrine of "avoiding even the appearance of evil". Or to put it in more secular terms: "Caesar's wife must be above reproach."

So will I blog about the Newbery committee? Yes. Sometimes about the process. My friend Dale has a blog about voting processes and is interested in talking about the Newbery process. (Not which books we liked, but the actual process.) Sometimes about how I am feeling about the workload. Will I blog about every book I read? Nope. I'm writing up notes for myself and that's good enough.

When I was first elected, I was terrified about how much work it would be. Then I talked myself into thinking it wouldn't be so bad. I'm back to being terrified. Last year's committee received 450 books (down apparently from the 600 they used to receive when self-publishers had access to your address). Even if you don't read every book, that's a lot. And you'll read things from other sources (libraries, book stores, etc) as well, not just what comes in the mail. It's a lot of work and I'm back to being scared.

A note on free books: no publisher is required to send committee members review copies of the books. Many still choose to do so. I have not yet received any. This is apparently normal not to get any in January and for it to really kick into high gear in March. I don't doubt I will be laughing at this vague feeling of worry and free time in six months.

For now I'm reading advanced reader copies I picked up at Midwinter (I'll review the final copy as well if it is a serious contender or even a very interesting book or a slight possibility). And I placed holds on some library copies of books for the 2012 publication year.

I will start this little counter though:
books received: 0; books read: 4


Marge Loch-Wouters said...

It will be ok. When I was on Newbery, I negotiated with my employer to give me one half day a week, paid, at home to read books so I could keep up. It was a godsend. My director and board were very proud of me being on this honored committee. After we made our decision, I spoke at our city council meeting and thanked our mayor and council for their support as well. They were very proud of a small community being represented on a national level.

It is a fascinating process and like book heaven - talking to 14 other people about the exact same books without regard to any other works by the authors is just book discussion heaven!

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Kristina said...

How exciting!
I look forward to hearing about the process.


Dale said...

Thanks for the link-love!

I'm curious to hear about the process, too (and to compare it to the Oscars, the Heisman trophy, the Hugo Awards, and other well-known but non-political voting activities.)